|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:19-21 It is a great affront to God, for vain men to pry into, and meddle with the secret things which belong not to them, De 29:29; Col 2:18. Man was ruined by desiring forbidden knowledge. God will not suffer his ark to be profaned. Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Those that will not fear his goodness, and reverently use the tokens of his grace, shall be made to feel his justice. The number smitten is expressed in an unusual manner in the original, and it is probable that it means 1170. They desire to be rid of the ark. Foolish men run from one extreme to the other. They should rather have asked, How may we have peace with God, and recover his favor? Mic 6:6,7. Thus, when the word of God works with terror on sinners' consciences, they, instead of taking the blame and shame to themselves, quarrel with the word, and put that from them. Many stifle their convictions, and put salvation away from them.
Verses 20, 21. - Who is able, etc. Literally, "Who is able to stand before Jehovah, this holy God?" A punishment so severe following upon their unhallowed temerity made the inhabitants of this city of priests eager to pass the ark on to others. They therefore sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim to request them to fetch it away. Kiryath-yarim - for so it ought to be pronounced - means the city of forests - Woodtown, softened among us into Wooton. It was chosen apparently simply because it was the nearest town of any importance, and was therefore identified in early Christian times with the modern Kuriet-el-'anab, grapetown, the woods having given way to vines, and which is about ten miles off, on the road to Mizpah. Conder, however, doubts the correctness of this view, and places Kirjath-jearim at Soba (see 'Tent Work,' 1:18 22).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the men of Bethshemesh said, who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?.... The Targum is,"before the ark of this holy Lord God;''which is said either by way of complaint of the severity of God, and the strictness of his justice; or in reverence of his holiness, acknowledging their imperfection, sin, and guilt, by reason of which they could not stand before him; nor can any, but on account of the mercy seat over the ark, or through Christ, his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice:
and to whom shall he go up from us? that is, the ark, the symbol of God's presence, which they seem to be desirous of parting with; being unworthy of it, and conscious of their impurity in comparison of God that dwelt in it; and of their weakness to give the honour and reverence that was due unto it; and yet they knew not who were fit for it, or would choose to receive it, because of the danger they were liable to through every inadvertency in them, and irreverence of that.
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